Now that you are ready to really get serious about planting your vegetable garden and container gardens for the patio or getting those shrubs in the landscape we need to talk about something that is critical for good healthy plant growth. Unfortunately many people who garden don’t understand the importance of thoroughly watering their “new” plants. Truthfully, it is thee most difficult skill to teach and master in the growing plants. When you stop and think about it, plants are made up of 90%+ water. It stands to reason that this is a make or break issue when you are growing plants and particularly when they are growing in containers or newly planted plants in the landscape or garden.
This short article, no matter how hard we try, will never make you a pro when it comes to proper watering. But, we can make you aware of a couple of serious pitfalls so you can recognize when you may be headed for trouble. Let’s talk about a newly planted shrub or tree first, since this type of plant material can be a substantial investment. This same principal also applies to newly planted container gardens.
#1 - When a new plant is planted in the landscape take a guess where all the roots are? Very good, in the root ball that came with the plant. This root system is like the heart of an animal or us humans. 100% of the nourishment or vitality of this plant is dependent on what is provided to the root ball from either Mother Nature or from you. The roots of the plant are not out into the surrounding soil, they are 100% in the root ball so it becomes very, and critically important, to know what is happening in the root ball not in the surrounding soil.
#2 - So does it matter to this newly installed plant how moist the soil is around the root ball? Not really, the roots of shrubs and trees will not be out in the surrounding, nicely amended soil you placed around the new plant for 30 to 90 days. A substantial number of roots from the original root ball of a shrub or tree take time to get into the new surroundings. (Bedding plants and perennials will become established in a matter of 10 days or so.)
#3 - The question is: Where do you check to see if the plant needs to be watered? Your right again, you need to check the root ball of the plant, not the surrounding soil. As soon as the weather gets warm and becomes hot, the “new” plant can “suck” the root ball dry and with no, or very few roots, into the surrounding soil, the new plant can literally dry up even though the soil around the plant is wet. Some people refer to this as “wicking”.
Trying not to add confusion to this subject....on the other hand, don’t over water.
Stay tuned....we are out of room for this week, we’ll have more information next time about how to provide the right amount of water for newly planted plants in the landscape.
Thank you for 33 years serving you,
Meadow View Growers